Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?’
When I reach maximum density, I know that it’s time for fasting and prayer in my life. By maximum density, I’m not talking an overindulgence of sugar laden snacks. That’s what spandex is for. I’m talking, when I’m saturated with my own selfishness and relying on my own knowledge. That’s a scary thought because I once put the remnants of a candle with the wick in the microwave to melt the wax because the jar was so pretty. That was three months ago. Imagine the headlines for that one. Really?
I fast habitually because I habitually sin. And if you don’t think you’ve never sinned simply because you didn’t act on your murderous thoughts…well, that’s for another blog. I’m often asked why I fast and pray, how and what I fast and pray. Fasting and prayer is a discipline I embrace to grow closer to God because where I decrease, the Holy Spirit increases. I learned the best way to restore harmony in my soul is to begin my prayers with gratitude and end with forgiveness.
Isaiah 58:7 “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Growing up Catholic, I was used to foregoing something during Lent (usually candy) then pillaging my Easter basket, ripping the ears off the chocolate bunny as if I was raised by wolves. Fasting is not religious ritual but relational experience for me now. I do routinely fast or forego a meal every Tuesday and have a dedicated time of prayer where I will link my prayers with a Bible verse that applies to my fast. Or, I will have a period of time that I give up sweets to draw closer to God’s sweetness. Twice a year, I dedicate a three week time period to do a Daniel Fast where I eat fruits, veggies, no meats or sugar, and processed foods. It’s an intense time for me and I have very specific things I’m praying for. I’ll journal my thoughts so that I can go back throughout the year or years, and reflect on my spiritual growth or unfortunately, my “pet sins.” There are sins that I seem to almost nurture unintentionally because I’m living unintentionally. Fasting releases my selfish needs that override how God has told me to be. I fast so that in the hardest places, I learn that showing grace and unconditional love begins with me and in my own home.
Isaiah 58:9 ‘Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
Fasting has taught me to listen and to seek God and ask Him to bless my life. It’s when I’m emptied of myself and I call out to my Heavenly Daddy, that He answers my prayers with His will and not mine. I’m not fasting to go hungry, I’m fasting because I hunger. Oxen are really big animals and so I’m guessing a yoke is pretty hefty. Sin is oppressive and consumptive. I will fast and pray to have that oppressiveness lifted from my life. Sin wears disguises and is beguiling. It can seem innocuous like the food samplers at the grocery store. “Would you like to eat this tasty morsel of jealousy and gossip? It’s quite yummy and makes your thoughts get very, very small. Come back for more, it’s the perfect way to dine, dished out al la carte on a platter of pride.”
Isaiah 58:12-13 “Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
Fasting is personal and defined by what you need to be released from and grow towards. These 21 days, I chose to try a vegan diet, no sugar, no alcohol, processed foods and no caffeine. I’d encourage you to sit down and write out where your emotions and physical body seem to land. Maybe you rebound from social media or you’re bound up in shame. Start with a dedicated time of prayer as soon as you wake up without distractions from the day. I like to use my old marked up Bible with the maps falling out (I can’t even follow directions) and a journal where I write down, in my handwriting, what I want God to know. It’s powerful like a handwritten thank you note instead of a text.
Isaiah 58:14 “Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
I fast because my sin can’t satisfy my hungry heart and soul. There are times in my life that I’m spiritually starving, drinking from bitterness; allowing my fear to tear at emotional wounds of inadequacy and feeling trapped. But right before me, is a table resplendent with God’s love that drives away all my fears and Christ’s living water that infuses my soul. And when you find yourself delighting in the LORD, He’ll delight himself in you.
I commit to:
Setting aside time daily to pray and find a Bible verse for the day. You can have that verse as your phone’s screensaver or even pop up as a reminder mid-day or right before you power down for the night.